Mother Earth’s favorite metalcore squad, Earth Crisis, has once again descended upon the meat-eatin’, leather-clad masses with their latest aural assault, Salvation of Innocents. As their eighth full-length album and Candlelight debut, SoI has an interesting multimedia presentation: it’s a music record that has a tie-up with vegan comic book series, Liberator. Obviously, one can only get the full SoI experience if you buy both the Liberator comic issue tied to this new Earth Crisis record and SoI itself, but as always, that’s reserved for the hardcore—pun unintended, but I guess since I pointed it out, it was intended—fans. For the rest of us non-hardcore listeners, SoI itself is good enough. And boy is it good.
Members of Earth Crisis may be shriveled old blokes by now, but they still make straight-up metalcore that sonically bashes, punches, bludgeons, whatever-other-verb-that-describes-a-violent-action you into blissful submission – like Hulk Hogan in sonic form. It seems that age diminishes neither their rage at human animal torturers nor their explosive energy.
Although these Syracuse metalcore veterans changed things up a little with the presentation of their latest material, their musical heart is still essentially beating to the same rhythm as it did decades ago. The songs generally have a moderate tempo conducive for slow-mo, synchronized group-moshing. Also, they are typically straightforward musical affairs: riffs, drums, hardly-there bass guitar, yelled vocals, more riffs, some gang vocals (‘cos nothing has h-a-r-d-c-o-r-e spelt across its visage more clearly than these), more drums, more yelled vocals, yada-yada. The exception, however, is fourth track “The Morbid Glare,” which had the working title of “Ian’s Fast Song.” It’s apparently one of the fastest songs the band has written to date; During my interview with guitarist Scott Crouse, he said that “The Morbid Glare” has a tempo so fast that playing it was a little outside of the comfort zone for him and drummer Dennis Merrick.
As is typical of the Earth Crisis kinda metalcore (aka metallic hardcore), there are many instances of gang vocals. Generally, these sound appropriate whenever they appear, but on “Shiver,” they manifests as a type of pseudo-clean, group singing that caused me to do exactly what the track title suggests. And it wasn’t a this-is-aural-sex kind of shiver; it was the this-sounds-off-for-some-reason kind of shiver. The combination of a slow tempo, multiple scratchy yells layered upon one another in the audio mix, and a melancholic synthesizer-like sound effect in the foreground just doesn’t sit right with me. Or maybe vocalist Karl Buechner is just bad at pseudo-clean singing.
Expectedly, the lyrical theme is not about relationships-gone-sour, outer space, fire-breathing dragons or My Little Pony®, but about the human cruelty that animals face in research laboratories. It has a non-linear narrative that tells a story about how animals in a lab were eventually saved by a female lab worker (the protagonist of Liberator) who had a change of heart. Depending on which song you are looking at or listening to, you can experience the story from either the perspective of the humans or the animals. This makes the lyrical trip a varied and much more interesting experience than usual, as it doesn’t just seem to be preachy words from a PETA proselytizer [Sounds exactly like that to me. – Steel Druhm].
Despite the small hiccup that is the cringe-worthy group singing heard in “Shiver,” SoI is still worth your time if you want some decent metalcore to pump you up while preparing to raid animal laboratories and save some abused animals to rack up karma points. It’s nothing fresh (save for the multimedia tie-up and lyrics), but that’s what makes it sound comfortable and familiar.